My Body Has Betrayed My Mind

I am not super in love with my body right now. And I feel like a bad woman – and definitely a bad feminist – because of it.

Up until the end of June, I was working. I wasn’t doing a great job at work, but I was doing the best I could considering I was exhausted, hormonal, and sick. I was so sick, in fact, that I didn’t care if I couldn’t do the things I normally could do. I just wanted to lie on the couch and get through the first trimester. It didn’t bother me so much that I wasn’t able to go out with friends or grade papers or read a book at night; I was sick and needed to rest. It was no different than having the flu.

Now, I feel quite a bit better. Even though the beginning of my second trimester wasn’t great, my energy has greatly improved and I’m not feeling sick all the time anymore. Oh, and I can eat again. (BOY, can I eat again! My hunger is seemingly never satisfied. Tim is training for his third marathon and I think I still eat more than him.)

But, by no means do I feel normal. I’m still sick often, and there are still foods I absolutely cannot eat. (Umm… chicken? That healthy, complete source of lean protein? Yea, can’t eat it.) I have heartburn like you would not believe, and after our babymoon to San Francisco, I got super sick with a cough that just Would. Not. Die. (and I rarely get sick, so you know this pregnancy just zapped my immune system) and that lovely cough caused me to throw my back out, which has been super painful.

So, even though I feel better, I’m not feeling great and I still can’t do much. My body doesn’t want to do the things it used to be able to do, even though I feel better so I want it to do those things. Mentally, I want to go out to see friends. I want to take a walk with the dogs. I want to cook amazing, healthy dinners. I want to go to yoga or Zumba class every day.

Physically, I just can’t.

A lot of people during pregnancy – fitness instructors, doctors, midwives, birth class instructors, husbands, the internet – tell you you need to listen to your body during pregnancy. If you feel like you can’t do something, don’t. The problem is, I feel like I can because I have great energy on my way there, but then when I get there, I am already exhausted just by the travel and I know two hours of hanging out with friends or an hour of yoga will cash me out for the rest of the day.

So, my tendency has been to just sit around the house. I don’t have work to go to, so what else am I going to do?

I’m not great at relaxing. I’m Type A to the core, so sitting still is rarely an option for me. Therefore, even though I’m trying to listen to my body and take some time off when I need to, when I do, I’m pretty depressed about it.

A lot of the time, I feel like my body has betrayed me.

Everyone tells you your priorities will change when you get pregnant. I hate hearing that, because it’s just not helpful. It falls along the lines of, “Do this stuff now because you won’t be able to do anything once you have a baby!” Which, for the record, I do not believe is true. Sure, there’s a period of downtime during which you cannot just up and leave the house because you have this little person who needs you, but that doesn’t mean your priorities change; the way you go about them has to change. You have to line up a babysitter, for example, or make sure the kid’s father is home to hang out with her while you are out. But it isn’t impossible.

But with pregnancy, everything changes because it has to. You can’t go traipsing around the city or to wine tastings or do a two-hour hot yoga class. Not only are some of those things just unsafe for your fetus, you literally, physically cannot do them, even though you used to be able to do them just fine.

Don’t get me wrong: Our baby is very much wanted. I feel bad complaining about pregnancy when I know there are a lot of people out there who struggle with getting pregnant. But, just because pregnancy is a miracle of sorts and I’m fortunate to have had a mostly complication-free experience doesn’t make this mental-physical disconnect suck any less.

For now, the best I can do is keep myself busy with crafting and some at-home work, force myself to go work out for a little while, and make sure I get adequate sleep at night and, in the meantime, hope that all of my friends whom I’ve blown off in the past few weeks understand that this isn’t permanent. I haven’t really changed. I’m just doing the best I can not to lose my mind in this body that just can’t seem to catch up.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how to deal with this mental-physical disconnect? No one really talks about wanting to do things but feeling unable, so I’m all ears. What worked for you? What can I try that might help?

Featured image credit: flequi

9 thoughts on “My Body Has Betrayed My Mind

  1. Tracy on

    I fell UP the steps at school in front of a ton of people when carrying Em. It was embarrassing, but I could not find my “center” for a long time. It was like being a little drunk all the time. And it got old- fast. With my second, I was just sick as a dog well into the 3rd trimester. I DID feel betrayed. I waited to have children, and wanted them, l but the physical act of creating a new human mostly sucked. Sorry. Many women feel healthy and amazing when pregnant, but not me. It’s not just you!

    • Ashley on

      Tracy-
      I totally get the feeling drunk! I told Tim my first trimester was a little like having the worst hangover ever, all the time. I actually have a theory that the women who feel healthy and amazing while pregnant are the women who only feel motivated to take care of themselves when they are carrying another life but otherwise eat crap and lead sedentary lifestyles. It’s no wonder they feel better while pregnant, then! Anyway, that’s probably not true, but it’s good to know I’m not alone anyway.

      • I think there is something to this, but it works two ways. I think a lot of women who “feel great!” were under-eating before they got pregnant and now they are actually eating enough. My mom admits that she was anorexic before getting pregnant and that when she actually started eating to take care of baby-me she felt great.

        • Ashley on

          So true – I never thought of that. And I suppose the tendency there is to jump back to not eating because we are a society obsessed with “getting that pre-baby body back.” Ugh. We can’t win!

  2. thenotsolittlethings on

    I completely understand. I already felt like my body betrayed me prior to pregnancy (constantly sprained ankles, bad knees, asthma) so I really felt that way during pregnancy. I try not to resent the women that “feel so great!” but i do. I felt like shit. I wasn’t puking a lot, but I was nauseous, exhausted, couldn’t catch my breath and my already ginormous boobs kept ballooning.

    So this is all to say, it sucks but it is normal. Your body is working HARD. You are building an entire person – brain, heart, fingernails. And on top of that you created a whole other organ and are building the reserves for what will be the biggest, hardest and probably longest workout of your life and then you will (if all goes according to plan) sustain that life with your own body. Its rough. Its WORK. Even when you are sitting on your butt on the couch you are working and you are working hard.

    I will also say, that I was not prepared for how my body would react after the birth. I have an MA in women’s studies and that was very much academic and in my head, no woo woo earth mama I am womyn hear me roar stuff. So when I had the baby and hormones and nature and mammalian instinct kicked in it was really hard to process. Just be aware that for a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, hormones will take over. You will be a lioness protecting her cub and be a mammal for a bit. Sink into it, let it take over a little because you will feel the need to KEEP THIS BEING ALIVE at all costs and it is weird (even if you didn’t get the immediate love feeling which I didn’t with my first and completely did with my second), and you are tired and you hurt and your boobs are doing crazy things. Then one night you will have horrible nights sweats (sorry but its true), the hormones will subside and you will feel more like you. Only you will still have these mother instincts and its a little weird, but it will become normal.

    • Ashley on

      It’s good to hear this, and good to feel like I’m not alone. I have a hard time really grasping the concept of working hard while sitting on the couch. I know my body is, but I don’t FEEL like it is. I mean, when I was so sick early on, it was easy to understand, but now I feel mostly fine and so I want to do things, even though I’m apparently already doing things even just sitting there.

      Anyway, also great advice to sort of sink in and let nature take its course after the baby is born, too. Something I will definitely have to keep in mind.

  3. Ashley on

    Though I am not currently pregnant and have not been pregnant in the past, let me tell you my perspective on this situation. I think you’re doing an amazing job and I am consistently impressed with all the crafting/work you get done, that you can host a book club and go to a book club, fly to San Fran and come back all in one piece, and support a husband running at least 7 miles every day. From the outside, I think you are accomplishing more than you realize. This probably stems from the type-A personality (of which I am one, as well. Relaxing is not my strength, so I can sympathize with that dilemma, if not empathize).

    And, from the friend perspective, I personally do not feel abandoned. Instead, I feel excited for you and Tim and the pups for the new addition in your lives! Plus, I am selfishly excited for your baby, because I want to babysit her and hold her even though I did zero of the work to bring her onto this earth.

    As the other two commentators said, you’re making a BABY!! A living, breathing, baby who will hopefully go on to live to be at least 100 years old. That’s a hell of a lot of work to accomplish in 9 short months. It’s a crazy big accomplishment, even though I am sure it doesn’t feel like it right now. In fact, going to work or painting a bathroom over the weekend seems like a very small task compared to the massive effort you’re undertaking this summer.

    So as you feel frustrated with yourself this summer, know that from my non-pregnant perspective I think you are incredibly brave to undertake this task, and that you are doing a bang-up job with it!

    • Ashley on

      Ashley –

      You are so nice. Thank you for saying these things! I guess it’s easy to forget all of the things I have, actually, been doing and focus on the one or two things I haven’t been able to do. Thanks for some much-needed perspective!

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